Saturday, 29 August 2009

Words and pictures

I've been participating in a number of creative blog challenges lately. As I love the power of the written word, I personally find it difficult to just post up my artwork without some sort of accompanying text, and when I'm visiting other sites I do so love good read alongside the eye candy.
It struck me that we don't necessarily see enough of this combination of creativity. I visited the Tate Gallery in St Ives when I was on holiday. Did I enjoy it? Not much, I felt I was missing something as I stared at some boring-looking shapes and tried to figure out why they merited a place in such an important Gallery. I know art is for personal interpretation but when you just 'don't get it' does that become a wasted opportunity? Can the addition of prose intensify the colour in paint splashes? And, likewise, do rich hues and evocative texture acting as neighbours on a page enhance the written word?

Obviously it's not always required, because that would be ridiculous and we'd be talking serious overkill. But think of how well it works when art enhances words - take a children's book where the illustration helps communicate the message to the reader alongside the prose. Watch the expression on Babbity Rabbit's face as his mood changes from grumpy to joyful; see the terror in Sammy's eyes as he peeps from under the bedclothes to investigate the mysterious growling coming from the corner of the room.

I'm not necessarily talking about requiring some sort of physical description to sit beside the art along the lines of "this piece represents a stormy sea throwing its aggression alongside the frustrations and anger of the sailor". More playing with words, being poetic, telling a story...

The wild ocean matched his stormy mood as he faced life without the one person who brought it meaning. With every wave crashing and destroying his flimsy craft he felt the lifeforce she had given him washing away...

Or am I barking up the wrong tree? Should art always be interpreted according to the individual - leaving them free to make up their own story? What do you think? Is there room in galleries for more 'illustration'? I just love words I guess. Share some words with me - let's discuss...


  1. As a writer, poet, and artist I find it hard not to want to have the viewer see what I was seeing as I painted. I like to tell stories with my artwork. Vague stories, granted, but stories nonetheless. I sure that the viewer brings their own interpretation to the artwork, but that is their right.
    Check out the illustration work of Matt Manley.

  2. i cant decide..I used to try to write Haiku to go with my paintings.. most of my work is colorful abastracted realism.. liek how much do I need to exl=palin what a lemon meant?? So i think I prefer to let "art be in the eye of teh beholder".. I dont always have some profound reason..i just like the persinmmon.. BUT. I love toget an artist to tzlk to ME about what they were saying if they feel a need/desire to discuss it.. too often I look and say.. what the heck does this mean???? and try to remember..its says something to every onlooker..everytime.

  3. I believe it depends on the writers / artists and the genre. Your example of children story is perfect for pic / word mix. So does comic stripes, etc. Writers / Artists of these genre surely see the need to prepare pic and words to enhance each other.

    As of readers' (or art viewers') interpretation of a book or artwork, I think it is only natural and unavoidable. I always believe that once the story is out there in the public, it will take on new shapes because of the readers respond.

    Hmm ... am I rambling and if I answer some of your questions?? ;)

  4. Thank you for your comments ladies. This is what I love about blogland - being able to share such thoughts with a like-minded creative community, have some interesting debate...

    I write this fresh from a visit to MattManley,com. Wow! Amazing artwork.


Thank you for your comments - I always love to hear what you think :)

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